Senate Not Aware Of FG’s Planned Sale Of National Assets – Orji

November 17, 2020
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BY BODE GBADEBO, Abuja

The Senate has asked the Bureau Public Enterprises (BPE) to furnish it with necessary details on its planned concessioning or sale of some national assets across the country.

The assets include four national stadia, National Arts Theater, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos, the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) and three power plants.

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Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Theodore Orji, revealed the committee’s position on Tuesday in an interview with journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, saying the Senate was not part of the process.

Recall that the BPE had on Thursday announced the plans in its 2021 budget documents submitted to the Senate Committee, in order to fund the proposed 2021 budget.

The stadia owned by federal government are the National Stadium, Lagos, MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, Jos International Stadium, and Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt.

While the affected power plants are in Geregu, Kogi State, Omotosho, Ogun State and Calabar, Cross River State.

But Senator Orji said the Senate was not carried along in the process and that the Director-General of BPE, Alex Okoh, has been hostile to the legislative panel, hence Nigerians need to know that lawmakers were not part of the deal.

“The position of the Senate Committee on Privatization is that we are not aware of the planned arrangement by the Bureau of Public Enterprises to either concession or put for outright sale, some national assets in the country in order to fund the 2021 federal budget.

“During the BPE budget defence before my committee, I complained bitterly that the relationship between our committee and the BPE has not been very cordial due to the behaviour of the DG, BPE. This is a man that if we call him on phone, he would not answer and if we send him a text message,  he would not reply. How then does he want us to communicate?

“However, we felt this is the best time to open up so that tomorrow, Nigerians would not blame the Senators of being part of the sale of our national assets. We know nothing about the entire transactions as a committee,” Senator Orji said.

He, therefore, assured Nigerians that his Committee will carry out its oversight functions by summoning the DG of BPE in order to get to the roots of the exercise and ensure Nigerians get value for their money, including surprise visits to the locations of the assets.

“We would demand for all the documents relating to the entire transactions. We would ascertain whether due process were followed. We would also look at the amount that the BPE put up the assets for either outright sale or concession.

“We would scrutinise the papers to see whether they are fair or ridiculous amounts because what Nigeria as a nation needs now, is money.

“I am not against a situation whereby capable Nigerians buying the national assets so far they would show patriotism in handling it. However, what I am against is a situation whereby the assets would be sold to people who would not be capable of handling them,” he added.

Orji pointed out that apart from the latest national assets listed by the BPE for concessioning or outright sale in 2021, the committee had also listed past transactions like Trancorp Hilton, power plants and oil and gas assets, with a view to revisiting the entire exercise and the process adopted in putting them up for sale or concession.

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